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How Do You Manage a Gorilla for a Partner?

Case Study Project Description

A software and consulting firm had developed a sought after add on tool for a popular software application. This tool added robust functionality and enabled project managers to get far more reporting to make better decisions.

Project Problem

When a company lacks the brand name status of the big players in software, it is vital for survival to partner with a company where your product adds value, and the prospect of greater sales to a partner company. However, the challenges of managing this partnership have to become part of the business equation rather than something to be ignored after the partnership agreement is signed.

Solution

You are only valuable to a large partner as long as your product helps sell their product; your company understands and supports the partner’s goals; you add big new ideas to their operations team; you find ways to be beneficial to the marketing team; and you realize that even though the partner’s product support team may love your product because it fixes something in their product, this is not enough to stay relevant for a long time to the partner.

Partnerships in software have a short shelf life. They should be focused on some immediate markets, with an action and implementation and then a harvesting of profits. Then the big company will have moved on to other partnerships or evolved their solution to the next version making your offering irrelevant or worse, behind in its own development so it gets dropped. Realize these facts before deciding to chase after the partnership with the big gorilla in the market.

The owners of this company were constantly at odds with their partner because they had different expectations than what actually occurred. We developed a program to get the product support team on board, which they were delighted with. But then the corresponding marketing program (a coupon for the add on product in the partner product’s packaging), never materialized any extra lead generation. The software marketer has to constantly be monitoring the affects of any of its activities and constantly make changes to the copy, the placement of the message and other aspects of the action plan. If one thing doesn’t work, come up with another idea and present it to the partner company and collaboratively improve on it.

Results

We mapped out several marketing routes and managed the interface between the owners and the partner company through several versions of the product over several years. When immediate results were not achieved, both parties became contentious and were not interested in working together. Despite numerous patch ups and re-engagement efforts, we were not able to change the tide in attitude. The company spent a great deal on advertising, nothing on public relations and didn’t work collaboratively on solutions with the partner company to keep tweaking the messaging. When the partner company came out with the next version, the add-on was quietly forgotten. The company could not keep the development pace of the partner’s product.